tv The Reid Report MSNBC August 14, 2014 11:00am-12:01pm PDT
michael brown. after a brief delay, chief thomas jackson updated reporters on the past four days of unrest, including what is being called a an extreme show of force from police. >> last night we started getting rocks, bricks, bottles thrown at us and then a molitoff cocktail went off. if individuals are attacking the police, you need to get out of that crowd. we can't individually go in and say, excuse me, sir, are you peacefully protesting? it's a crowd. if you're not -- if the crowd is getting violent and you don't want to be violent, get out of the crowd. >> we also heard from missouri governor jay nixon who spoke on the phone with president obama
today and will be speaking at a news conference in just under two hours. >> he wanted me to thank those leaders who are leading with vigor but with peace. we're demanding answers but respecting others who understand and know that these transitionary moments, these difficult moments sometimes define us and he wanted us to be defined as a better, for peaceful society in the long run. >> with nightfall just hours away, here's where we are right now. the justice department is urging authorities in missouri to demilitarize the crowd control in ferguson. police have not released the name of the officer involved in the shooting. meanwhile, the body of 18-year-old michael brown has been released to his family and will undergo a second autopsy. as a result of ongoing unrest, the first day of school has been canceled. kristen welker is joining us from martha's vineyard.
what went into the decision from the president to come out and speak about ferguson today? >> i think there was an immense amount of pressure on the president to come out and speak about this, particularly in the wake of last night, joy, when it really seemed as though the situation escalated. we saw those images of police and riot gear and tear gas and as we've been reporting to journalists they were arrested. the message that now is a time for healing, you heard him call for an open investigation and he's directed the doj as well as the fbi to conduct independent yeses and the other headline, president obama had strong language for the protesters and the police that there's never an excuse for violence by the police and never excuse for excessive force. the latest developments are that
the department of justice, the attorney general has reached out to authorities in in missouri and urged them to demilitarize their response and the d ocoj h offered technical advice, how to deal with these types of large crowds. obviously there will be a lot of eyes on the response tonight to see if, in fact, we do see a demilitarization, a de-escalation in missouri. of course, in ferguson, you have a community that is predominantly african-american and then a police force that is predominantly white. there have been tensions in the past and, of course, in the wake of the tragic death of michael brown, we've seen those tensions escalate. not unusual for president obama to come out, joy, and speak about issues of race and law enforcement. of course, we saw this in the wake of trayvon martin when he said we need to do a better job of training at the state and local levels of getting police
trained on the best methods for community policing. he referenced that today in terms of the need for the community and police to have better relationships. i anticipate we'll hear more about that in coming days. the president is continuing to get updates where, of course, he continues his vacation. joy? >> kristen welker, thank you. >> joining me now is congressman emanuel cleaver. the conflict in your home state has been surreal for a lot of people to watch. what is your initial reaction to what the president had to say today, calling out not just any protesters who were engaged in abei but also calling out the police? >> i think what the president did and said today is important. it's also important for us to understand that in these kinds of situations the people who would create disturbances are not watching nbc or msnbc or cnn
or anything else. but i think it was important for the president to make that statement. the chief of police is asking for calm and i agree with him but i think the police ought to calm down first. because i think that what they are doing is unintentionally inciting the people. when you -- look, ferguson is a very small town. i mean, very small. it's compact. all of the people live in a little area together. and when they see tanks rolling down the street like they would see in baghdad or in some other troubled spot in the middle east, it's like what in the world is happening here? so even the good people have become irritated and are irritated. i think we have a good chance right now to have another crisis if the crowds keep coming and the police continue to act the
way they have, we'll keep talking in a day or two or in a few days from now about another tragedy. there's a tragedy in waiting with the escalation the way it is and the police are part of it. the crowds are doing some things they shouldn't do but the police are trained or should be to react in situations like this. >> and conference man, you were in support -- my understanding is -- of a letter sent by the members of the congressional black caucus asking the fbi to get involved in what is going on in ferguson. the president did not say that there would be a natural guard callout, intervention to take over the policing of ferguson. would you have wanted to see that? >> well, i would like to see the governor perhaps call out the national guard. only to the extent that the national guard, based on things that have happened domestically, are generally trained to deal
with situations like this. the ferguson police clearly are not. because if they don't realize what the signal, the message they are sending with somebody sitting on top an armed vehicle with some kind of machine gun on top, then they don't need to be in a situation by themselves. african-americans tend to trust the federal bureau of investigations and the justice department much more than they would in the local police in ferguson. so i'm hoping that -- if the crowds continue to assemble, that the governor will, in fact, call out the national guard. >> and sir, let's go to the investigation very briefly. do you believe that the federal bureau of investigations should take over the investigation into the killing of michael brown? >> well, i think they should stand in the background waiting to see if there is a pure and
undistilled, untampered with investigation going on. and, if so, they should stand in the background. if we continue to receive reports that the police are not even interviewing the eyewitnesss, then we can't allow that to stand. i think that's what the president was talking about. we cannot allow the public to continue to hurt over the fact that they don't think justice is taking place. and when you have somebody standing up, going on every network on the planet earth saying, i was there, i know what happened, and then three days after the event, no law enforcement agency has even spoken to this young person, something is wrong and i hope people of goodwill around the country can see something is not right in ferguson. >> yes, indeed. emanuel cleaver, thank you for being here. >> thank you for having me.
covering last night's protest on the street, police started firing tear gas. >> i can barely breathe. my nose is burned, my eyes are burning. you can't escape it. the further back you go, down the streets clouds of tear gas. >> chief jackson, in his news conference said that the police response, this response was because protesters were throwing rocks at the police and people were attacking the police and that's what provoked the response. when that happened, we played yourself being caught up in a cloud of tear gas, did you see protesters attacking police
before that began? >> reporter: joy, not at all. we talk about the things lost in the fog of war. some facts may be mixed up. i was standing just about 35 feet away from the armored vehicles when they first fired off the canisters of tear gas. somebody threw a bottle or something off one of the trucks but i didn't see any rocks being thrown. the police said, this is no longer a peaceful protest and within 15 seconds, they started firing the tear gas. >> is it your sense that the decisions being made by officers are being made just tactically on the ground or do you get the sense that they are taking direction from some authority higher than, let's say, a local commander? >> reporter: i'm not getting a
sense either way. the sense i'm getting is someone is not handling the implementation of this process properly at all and what is happening -- i just talked to a few people down at the local supermarket who said initially when there was rioting, where was the police? where was the tear gas? now when they were told that they can peacefully protest during the day, that's when you decided to fire off gas canisters? what is happening here, they are creating adversaries that they wouldn't normally have in the beginning because most people agree that violence is not the answer. torturing your local quick stop is not the answer. but now that these young people are standing up and are voicing how they feel about this process, about all of the facts that are still lost about the killing of this young man and, again, we have to come back to the reason why we're here. a young man was killed by the police in an inexplicable manner. >> the family of michael brown
will hold a national rally in support of justice for michael brown in ferguson. are you expecting tonight more protests on the street? >> reporter: oh, certainly we're expecting people to protest. even right now, and it seems early by standards of this community for protesting, they are out here already. even when the president a little while ago said it's a time for healing and for peace, nightfall would determine how deeply that penetrated. when people gather and nightfalls. >> thank you. we have continuing coverage of the unrest in ferguson. and allegations that the journalists were violated last night on the streets of ferguson. we'll talk to two of those journalists who are in ferguson, one of whom was arrested by police. ugh. heartburn. did someone say burn? try alka seltzer reliefchews. they work just as fast and taste better
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so my own feeling is right now, is that president obama should use the authority of his office to declare martial law, federalize the missouri national guard as they protest. >> that was civil rights icon georgia congressman john lewis. missouri's democratic senator claire mccaskill says the situation must be demilitarized. as more critics against protesters against ferguson, they are calling for a federal
civil rights organization, similar to the one opened regarding the shooting of michael brown. joining me is pete williams. what can you tell us about what the justice department actually plans to do? >> well, in fact, senator mccaskill and the attorney general have now talked. he also talked to other members of the congressional delegation. first of all, in terms of the investigation itself, the justice department on monday opened a civil rights investigation that is led by the u.s. attorney out there and the fbi. and normally in situations like this, you see the fbi open these investigations, keep a close eye on what the local police are doing but not be too aggressive on their own at this stage. but this situation in ferguson is different, we're told, that the fbi has already been doing interviews with witnesses. one official says the fbi has interviewed the young man who says he was with michael brown
at the time of the shooting. so you see a little more forward-leaning response by the fbi in this situation. now, the fbi can't, quote/unquote take over the investigation because there is no federal murder statute that would cover something like this. the only hook is the course that it is taking. that's one-track, the investigation. in terms of the police response, the justice department says that it's been urging authorities to use the same phrase senator mccaskill did, to demilitarize the situation there in dealing with the protests and officials say that there is every reason to think that the police now agree with that and that they will try to back off of that. the justice department has offered technical assistance from its community policing office in how to do this, how to control crowds in a less confrontational way and members of the justice department's
community relations service has been there as well on the ground to try to help diffuse the situation. >> nbc's pete williams, thank you. >> you bet. national and local papers offer a chilling glimpse at the night's chaos. it calls ferguson a city on edge. "the huffington post" labels it as "baghdad usa." a fourth night of furor. huffington post reporting ryan riley was covering the story last night and was inside a mcdonalds when he says he took this photo and then the police asked him for i.d. he refused and then police started to clear the restaurant and he was arrested as was a second reporter. ryan, thanks for joining me. your twitter account last night was fascinating for what you said didn't happen. one of the things that didn't happen when you were arrested, which was your miranda rights
being read to you. is the situation that you found yourself in analogous to anything that you've seen before as a reporter? >> reporter: yeah. i mean, i wasn't questioned on anything so it's a question of whether they have to necessarily read me my miranda rights but it was a bizarre situation and an unnecessary escalation of this entire situation. i mean, i think one of the things that the context is very important here. this is -- at the time this took praise, essentially it was daylight hours. it was a peaceful protest and there were over 70-plus fully armed s.w.a.t. members in the community. that seemed to antagonize the crowd, the idea of this huge massacre of people in the area. it's important to point out, other people have experienced far worst things than i have last night. i mean, my head was slammed into the window on the way out but
people got hit with tear gas, my colleague got hit with tear gas last night. i just think it was such an over reaction and at least with the officers that dealt directly with me in the way they were handling the situation. i'd much prefer to reporting not on myself. it's not as much fun to be on this side of things, despite what some people might think. it's -- you know, i'd much rather be out there reporting on what is happening to other people than sitting here talking about what happened to myself. >> indeed. and the restrictions on a reporter's ability to actually report the story has actually become part of the story. i want to ask you the same question i asked to someone earlier. the police chief, chief jackson, has said that the militarized response, the response that you saw, was because rocks and mc molotov cocktails were being thrown at the police. where you were, did you see protesters attacking police?
>> absolutely not. i was arrested -- i think i was the first arrest to arrive at the jail. they came through and were closing down the street. the mcdonald's was tranquil before. it looked like any other mcdonald's and we were not able to pack up our stuff quickly enough and some people who were playing dress-up decided to lock us up. it was a situation that was completely unnecessary. i actually did ask -- because originally before this sort of distraction happened, i was trying to do something on the idea of all of the militarized vehicles and the equipment that has been brought in, i asked the police chief about this yesterday before all of this took place and he came up with, oh, people use bombs nowadays t was a pre-existing idea that he had in his head even before the alleged molotov cocktails were launched, that in theory somebody could be using bombs and that's why we need these vehicles to deal with it. >> ryan, stay with me.
i want to bring in matt pierce, a reporter with the los angeles times. matt, you spoke with the ferguson police chief right after ryan's arrest. what did he tell you? >> that's right. i was actually not near where ryan was at. i stepped into my car to charge my phone and i was looking at twitter and i saw that they had been arrested. so i couldn't quite believe that because i had just seen them earlier in the day conducting interviews so i called the ferguson police chief tom jackson and i told him what i had heard. he just told me, oh, god. and so he said he was going to make some phone calls. so i talked to him again about ten minutes later and he said that he called over to the st. louis county police who were running last night's crowd control and he said, i've told them to release them and said that they had probably been arrested by somebody who didn't know better. >> and you've been traveling to there, speaking with senator
claire mccaskill, you are starting to see the elected officials weigh in. the senator says that she's working on demilitarizing the police response and her saying that a standing ovation at church. to your knowledge, were there a lot of elected officials present? did you feel the presence of elected -- or can you report on the presence of elected officials who were in charge of the response to the protests? >> no. i mean, one of the unique things about all of the demonstrations at nighttime, the police response, it's really hard to tell who is in charge in the police response because the people who lead it apparently have rotated it each night. this community meeting that i was at near fuerguson, it was mainly community leaders and reledge jor religious leaders. they were upset with what happened with michael brown. the conversation was dominated
around the demilitarized police presence, people were not able to get out of their apartments, they can't get access at night and police won't let them in. so a lot of them are also talking about children who had basically been traumatized by this whole ordeal of the past four days. >> ryan, i want to go back to you for a moment because we now have learned, at least from congressman cleaver -- i'm sorry. from pete williams -- that the fbi has begun speaking with witnesses. does it surprise you that they are talking with witnesses but local police has not? >> reporter: that is a little -- the fbi doing that, it's definitely something unusual in these sort of cases. like pete said, they sort of stand back and see how things go. obviously they are not going to say exactly why they are deciding to interview people themselves but it doesn't throw a ton of confidence in the actions of officers over here
and i think that's probably been demonstrated on how these past few nights have gone over and how they dealt with daytime peaceful protests in bringing in massive s.w.a.t. teams to somehow think that's going to make the situation better. >> yeah, indeed. i want to thank both of you, matt pearce from "the los angeles times" and ryan reilly with "the huffington post," thank you. an unarmed black man was shot and killed by police. police say ezell ford tried to grab their gun. meanwhile, the cease-fire in gaza has been extended. it's a month-long war that has claimed the lives of more than 1900 palestinians, mostly civilians, and 67 israelis, mostly soldiers.
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visit celebrex.com and ask your doctor about celebrex. so ally bank really has no hidden fethat's right. accounts? it's just that i'm worried about you know "hidden things..." ok, why's that? no hidden fees, from the bank where no branches equals great rates. breaking developments on the death of robin williams. his wife susan schneider has released a personal statement today in which she says that robin's sobriety was in tact at the time of his death and he was suffering from the early stages of parkinson's disease, something that williams was not yet ready to share publicly. hands up, don't shoot! hands up, don't shoot! hands up, don't shoot! >> and that is video from last night's protests in ferguson, missouri. and on instagram, you're spreading the hands up don't cry
protests over the shooting of michael brown. many watching the conflict on social media see the police as the threat. and according to this tweet, the police chief belmar says we've done a remarkable job of restraint. but protesters offering raised arms are often met with this message. >> you are not peacefully assembling. you must leave or you will be arrested. you must leave the area immediately. >> you're tweeting outrage reactions like this one. never thought i'd see the day where you could not protest peacefully in america. and you've sent more than 1.9 million tweets on ferguson in the past 24 hours, some that could have come from a war zone
like this one. several time young men approach police with red dots painted on their chest. images like this one and we will come to define what is happening in ferguson more than the images that remind us to see the bigger picture. others are offering opposing views, like this one. police officers are human, too. we expect them to be perfect but there's always two sides to every story. still, you're overwhelmingly applause the spirit in ferguson. it's weird but i've been feeling so much patriotism about ferguson, one woman shared, not for our government but for our people. you can join the conversation with fellow readers. and now this news. here's an in-depth look at what the protesters in ferguson are demanding from police.
we're watching breaking news out of ferguson, missouri. president obama spoke about the chaos last night. governor jay nixon will make a statement at 4:00 p.m. and the police chief will meet with michael brown's family at some point today. we're monitoring developments on this story. stay tuned for more live coverage ahead. first, let's get an update on the other top story. the ongoing crisis in iraq. a short time ago, president obama called the humanitarian
crisis in iraq a success. >> we broke the isil siege of mt. sinjar and we helped save many innocent lives. because of these efforts, we do not expect there to be an additional operation to evacuate people off the mountain and it's unlikely that we're going to continue humanitarian air drops on the mountain. >> nbc's duncan golestani is joining us from iraq. what do you say about the government saying that things about getting better? >> reporter: hi, joy. that's right. officials saying that only around 4,000 yeah jazidis are remaining on the mountains.
the peshmerga has allowed the yazidis to make it down and the thousands are being poured into refugee camps. 1.5 million people displaced because of the fighting here. the refugee camps are filling up and the government saying it was in a crisis. that is the next challenge, what can be done to help people as refugee camps are hastily put up. in the long term, it looks like people could be there for a really long time because the fighting is continuing in the towns and villages where they lived. all they can do is watch and wait as the forces fight back against isis with the help of u.s. air cover but it will be a
long time before those places are safe to return to and then some say they don't want to return home. the christians, the yazidis who say just because our attention is on this now, this is not the first time they've been persecuted in iraq and they would rather have somewhere new to live. joy? >> duncan golestani, thank you. and back to our big story, ferguson, missouri. we'll discuss the militarization of america's police, next.
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and the department is going to be offering assistance to the local authorities to do things somewhat differently. and, of course, the scenes that we saw in ferguson, missouri, last night are what has prompted the attorney general to speak and the tactics and specifically the almost military-style show of force that we did see used to disperse peaceful protest, which the president also criticized today. those could be a window into the future of law enforcement in many towns across the country, maybe even if your town. usa today and elsewhere point out, excess iraq and afghan war equipment has combined with an early 90s program designed for a time when crime rates were higher, along with a war on drugs and a response to 9/11 to create a militarized police force in many parts of the country that today is finding local critics on the left and on the right. jim cavanaugh is a retired atf agent and law enforcement agent and jim, i'll start with you. i think people have been shocked
to see what really looks like an army on the streets of ferguson, missouri. is that part of the police tactics in dealing with protests? >> i think the tactics are wrong here, and to look on top of the armoured veem. that's not what this is about. it's about disobedience and the majority of people and i just saw john lewis and riot police have a helmet and you can't
begrudge a brick or bottle and a shield and we had a 36-inch what is called a very restrained response to a crowd a. protest, civil disobedience. when you have armored vehicles and rifles and all of this heavy tear gas, it's too much for the people and it's not necessary. there's a tweet and a picture of the comment that was i count 70-plus s.w.a.t. officers on crowds insanity. go go goldie, you were in the military. it speaks to a military reaction as to what has happening in a civilian context. >> it's even an overreaction for a military engagement, frankly.
these officers were dressed and ready in riot gore before the mass crowds came together. they were dressed in this gear as early as sunday and monday when we had very, very peaceful protests when there were no bottles or rocks thrown. you have to look at, what was the real police strategy here. i believe it was a strategy of intimidation when they brought out the dogs and riot gear early on. we dare you. in that kind of environment, which the police themselves set up, you saw a bit of angst and tensions rise. it is up to police officers to those kinds of officials to engage in de-escalation. not to do anything that would enflame or incite and i think that they did this in this kind of almost propaganda, cause the kind of dilemmas we saw last evening. i heard the police chief say yesterday that he preferred that no one be on the street past
9:00 p.m. as if our constitutional rights expire at 9:00 p.m., as if he has a right to call that martial law on his citizenry. i think the police ought to choose how they engage. by the way, they got these munitions. they got that from the federal government and i think there's a grand irony there. >> not only did they get them from the federal government, as goldie just said, they got them in the context of anti-terrorism. i want you to hear what claire mccaskill has said. >> after 9/11, sometimes in knee-jerk fashion, we equip police departments with all kinds of tools that had not been kinds of tools that had not been typical of
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